THE issuing of the ‘enough is enough’ call to action by the International Transport Workers’ Federation on 15 June has been criticised by not-for-profit organisation Human Rights at Sea.
The call to action, in some eyes, encourages seafarers to effectively leave their roles, stop working and thereby disrupt global supply lanes in protest at contract extensions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Human Rights at Sea “strongly denounces” what it considers are irresponsible and short-sighted actions by ITF and supporting industry bodies, which if allowed to be followed, could well have life-changing repercussions and long-term ripple effects for the most vulnerable in society.
“Such a call to action for global organised disruption will predominantly affect those in the margins of society for whom charity and welfare support are quite literally life-lines, including the reliance on regular seaborne re-supply for supporting the day-to-day lives of entire communities and states,” says David Hammond from Human Rights at Sea.
“This will include seafaring communities and dependents; the very people ITF is claiming to support, but instead potentially causing an even greater maritime welfare crisis which will need to be serviced by already hard-pressed welfare organisations.”
ITF’s stance in this matter to rely upon the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 could well mean that millions of people relying for survival from food, medical and World Food Programme development aid in refugee camps in the likes of Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere around the globe would suffer unnecessarily.
“Their actions could well change the balance in accessing critical supplies for the likes of UNICEF and UNHCR development programs, associated feeding programs, the distribution of tents etc,” Mr Hammond said.
“Urgent UN agency and state-level questions now need to be asked as to how ITF will be subsequently held to account through their public and incendiary declaration to instigate what would effectively the contrived grinding to a halt of international sea trade.”
Human Rights at Sea says it advocates for better awareness and wider human rights protections for all living, working and transiting world’s oceans.
“Human Rights at Sea cannot support ITF in this matter and calls on the IMO, ICS and other industry entities to publicly distance themselves from this damaging and ill-conceived call to action that will cause wider global suffering beyond the crew-change crisis for millions of innocent people who simply do not deserve such consequences,” Mr Hammond said.